Mon, Aug 28, 2006 - Page 20 News List

US cruise into the quarter-finals

CONTRASTING FORTUNES The Americans were far too good for the Australians once the crowd got behind them, while Germany sneaked past Nigeria 78-77

AP , SAITAMA, JAPAN

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The US cruised into the quarter-finals of the basketball world championship yesterday. Germany had to fight for every point.

Carmelo Anthony scored 20 points as the US smothered Australia in the second quarter to run away to a 113-73 the second round victory.

Aymeric Jeanneau scored 16 points, including six free throws in the final 36 seconds, and France held off Angola 68-62 on Sunday to advance for the first time in 33 years.

Joe Johnson added 18 points, and Dwyane Wade had 15 for the US, who allowed only two baskets and six points in the second period en route to a 30-point halftime lead. The US shot 54 percent from the field, including 14-of-27 from 3-point range, and led by as many as 42 points.

"This team really cares about US basketball and playing the game the right way," US forward Shane Battier said.

"We're focused on playing with each other instead of against each other, that's what the coach preaches and we're having a lot of fun doing it," he said.

The US (6-0) advanced to a quarter-final matchup on Wednesday against Germany, which beat Nigeria 78-77 in the first game of the day behind 23 points from Nowitzki, the All-Star forward from the Dallas Mavericks.

Andrew Bogut, the No. 1 pick in last year's NBA draft who just completed his rookie season with the Milwaukee Bucks, led Australia with 20 points. But after a strong start, he was scoreless for a stretch of more than 15 minutes, when the US outscored Australia 45-14.

The Australians (2-4) came in seeking to control the tempo, and they did a good job of it for most of the first half. Their problem was in making shots.

Bogut scored nine points in the first five minutes, hitting a 3-pointer to give the Australians a 15-14 lead with 5:07 left in the first quarter.

Australia was within two points after Brad Newley's dunk with 1:41 remaining in the first quarter. But by the time C.J. Bruton made the next one, the Australians had gone nearly 9 minutes without a field goal as the US broke the game open.

"Any time you get out of your group and face the US it's tough," Bogut said. "Once they got those big dunks and fast break shots the crowd got behind them, the shackles were off and it was pretty much over."

Leading 27-23 after one, the US outscored Australia 18-1 during the first 7 minutes of the second quarter to take a 45-24 after Anthony made a pair of free throws with 3:01 left in the half. Australia missed 20 of its first 27 shots before Bruton's jumper with 2:50 to go.

Johnson scored the last seven points of the half, and the US took a 59-29 lead into the break.

Bogut finally ended his drought with a pair of free throws to open the second half, but the US built its lead to 88-48 with 49 seconds left in the third quarter after Wade hit the US' fourth-straight 3-pointer.

Battier hit four 3-pointers and scored 12 points, while Chris Bosh also added 12 for the US.

LeBron James had another quiet game with five points, hitting the top of the backboard on one jumper from the corner.

Earlier, Nowitzki gave Germany a 78-71 lead on a slam dunk with two-and-a-half minutes left in the game.

Nigeria pulled to within one on free throws by Chamberlain Oguchi and Tunji Awojobi and had a chance to take the lead with seconds remaining. Ime Udoka drove for the basket but Nowitzki tipped his shot and grabbed the rebound at the final buzzer.

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